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Safety in Guatemala

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Safety in Guatemala

1. Posted by jenmc (Budding Member 5 posts) 11y

Hello!

I have been planning a trip to Guatemala, but as I read more about it I'm starting to worry about safety. Is Guatemala more dangerous than other countries in Central/SOuth America? Is it foolish to travel there alone?

Cheers!
Sian

2. Posted by jackboy (Inactive 350 posts) 11y

Hi
The more you read about anywhere in the world the more you dont want to "leave your house",most of it is rubbish as a lot of statistics are made up from figures given to people sitting in offices who never see the real world.
I travelled Guatemala to Guat City and Antigua just by Minivan and bus and met lots of girl travellers travelling on their own.
If your staying in Hostels you will meet plenty of fellow travellers to explore or just go out with but I mostly went sightseeing on my own with not one problem,it was very friendly.
I only stayed a 5 days in Antigua and 3 days Guat City,when your their go up to the Copan Ruins just over the border in Honduras for a few days or maybe you are going along the coast!!!!.
Have a great trip and enjoy the world.
al de bes

3. Posted by hednorth (Budding Member 31 posts) 11y

Hey!
Know a girl who travelled to Guatemala alone. She started off by working as a volunteer for a few weeks first, met lots of nice people and ended up travelling with them for the rest of the trip. I`m travelling to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay alone in a few months... and am a bit nervous to, but that`s just healthy. We just have to take our precautions right?
Have a great trip! (and don`t let this stop you).

4. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 10y

I was a guide based in Guatemala before the Internet came in (cerca 1993-1994), in fact the first public fax debuted at a local Bookstore-Import/Export-Travel Center in 1989 with much fanfare, within 2 weeks their competitor put in one as well. We dealt mainly with clients who were physically here and required guide service or transport, except for those we picked up at the Airport still in culture shock, which wears off in a couple days. However, the internet is full of Armchair travellers and so called experts who rarely leave their bedroom or office, as noted above, we all know somebody who was robbed somewhere in the world, which does not make the world a totally dangerous place to travel. In fact I try to tell travelers that travel is more about people than just destinations, lodging place and transportation. I conducted over 300 excursions from singles to groups in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua between 1986-1997 and we were never assualted, everyone on the road and at the destinations knew me (in fact we knew some of the persons who stopped cars and occasionally robbed locals and visitors, it was a small country), in case of mechanical failure we had to find a telephone in those days, no cell phones, but we had a mechanic in every major destination or city, from precision German-Guatemalan shop in Guatemala City to the 'patch em up' "Greasy Brothers" in tiny Panajachel. A few clients got pickpocketed or had a camera snatched in the crowded public markets, most did not use common sense. Most travelers on departing want to return. In fact just a couple of months ago in san Salvador I dropped without realizing, the bag with my own cell phone in it, getting onto a city bus, a minute later a woman put the bag into my hand and refused money. The trick is, even if you are having a bad day, smile and keep smiling, and make friends.

5. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 10y

Volunteer Report..one of the El Salvador Volunteer's reports..El Salvador is supposed to more dangerous than Guatemala...maybe because there are less "tourists"?

"As you will have seen on the rest of the website, ----- has been
set
up to try and counter some of the many problems the people here are
forced to deal with on a daily basis. It is important to recognize that
it is not one of these companies run from England or America who charge
exhorbitant fees from the volunteers and then pass on little or none of
those funds to the places where they are needed. This project is run
by,
and for, El Salvadoreans. There are no hidden costs and the money you
pay
for your upkeep goes only to the families you stay with, and not into
the
pockets of western 'entrepeneurs'.
Most of the facts you need should be on the website already, so I will
limit myself to how I found the project and my experieneces here.
Firstly I found it a shock to find myself so far off the gringo trail.
Apart from the other volunteers on the project, I have seen no
foreigners
here at all. After Mexico and Guatemala, this was a strange but not
unpleasant. The lack of tourists also means a lack of tourist
infrastructure, but an experienced traveller should have no
difficulties
here.
As for the projects themselves, the one I was on was a great
experience.
Involved mainly in teaching English to orphans and street kids I found
the children keen and curious, and the institution supportive. The need
here is great, I had no idea how much the country was still suffering
from the after effects of the war and the earthquakes. More than most
countries I have seen, this place needs help.
Being here was a massive learning experinece for me, and I am so
pleased
I came. ------------- are lovely people who
really
go out of their way to make sure things are ok for you. They are good
people, family people, who love having people in their house and in
their
lives. The places that you will work are also welcoming and friendly.
When I arrived I doubts mainly about the safety of El Salvador. This
place has a repuation for great danger, partly because of the horrors
of
the past war and partly because of the great social problems born of it
and still in evidence today. However, although you have to be careful
at
nights in the streets (best not to be in them), I have had no problems
and found the people to be open, warm, and welcoming. You will have a
good time here if you come.
------

or maybe South Florida USA is safer..for women anyway...

Please keep this circulating, caution to women especially.

You walk across the parking lot, unlock your car and get inside. Then
you lock all your doors, start the engine and shift into REVERSE, and
you look into the rearview mirror to back out of your parking space and
you notice a piece of paper stuck to the middle of the rear window.

So, you shift into PARK, unlock your doors and jump out of your car to
remove that paper (or whatever it is) that is obstructing your view.

When you reach the back of your car, the car-jackers appear out of
nowhere, jump into your car and take off!

Your engine was running, (ladies would have their purse in the car) and
they practically mow you down as they speed off in your car.

BE AWARE OF THIS NEW SCHEME THAT IS NOW BEING USED.

Just drive away and remove the paper that is stuck to your window
later, and be thankful that you read this.

I hope you will forward this to friends and family...especially to
women! A purse contains all of your identification, and you certainly do
NOT want someone getting your home address. They already HAVE your keys!

BUREAU OF INVESTIGATIONS
FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL
ORLANDO FLA. 32859
407-858-3233

6. Posted by mike65 (Full Member 27 posts) 10y

When you reach Guatemala City, ask for Xamanek hostal (view the www.mayaworld.net/xamanek/). I've been there in July, it is safe and good, and you can find people to travel with (if you want to). You'll get objective and honest information. Hostal is in zona 10, very safe area, but my experience is that Guatemala is very safe country. Guatemaltecos are very friendly and good people.
There is a criminal activity mostly in remote areas (bus robberies and so on), and pickposketing in big cities. Take with you money belt, travellers cheques and maybe credit card. If you go alone, take rule number one of all solo travellers: never say to anyone that you're travelling alone, and always give impression that at least four huge and bold guys, that is your friends, are going to appear any minute.
Public transportation (city and intercity)is the most dangerous spot for pickpocketing. If you are being mugged (which is not a great probability) - keep some money to give in your pockets. Because, if they can't get anything, they might get angry.
In some bars and places you'll find Americans and other Westerners that work there, and you'll get more trustworthy information.
The way they will try to take your money is pumping of the prices, begging, cheating on you, but no attacks.
I've been to many afterparties (since in that country all places close at 1 a.m. in the night) - and nothin had happened. You must keep your friendly face, say no to the offered drugs, and by all means speak a little Spanish. Make yourself accepted!
Good luck!
Guatemala is going to be a time of your life!
Mike65

7. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 10y

Very good advice...never tell strangers you are travelling alone, where you are staying and your itinerary, remember the theives now work in pairs or groups and have cell phones (most budget trevellers do not possess a cell phone)but rarely assualt a lone budget traveller since it is just not worth it. There are several bars and restaurants in Zona 10, Guatemala City (called the Zona Viva)as well as nearby Zones 9, 13 and 14 run by bi lingual Guatemalans and ex pat residents, one is Cheers 13 Calle Zona 10 between La Reforma and 1a Avenida, nearby is Shakespeares Pub in the basement of Torre Santa Clara, 1a Avenida y 13 Calle, both Cheers, run for years by Mark, an expat from Canada and his Guatemalan wife, and Shakespeares, owned by Valerie, a 24 year Guatemalan residnent, open about Noon and close at 1AM. To view the Ads, in Guatemala city, as well: Antigua, Lake Atitlan and other sections of Guatemala check out the Guatemala Revue Magazine online, great archives of artcles as well, cultural events calendar, etc. http://www.revuemag.com/ on .pdf The magazine is distributed free in Guatemala, El Salvador and parts of Belize and Honduras.
Once out of Guatemala into El Salvador, Honduras(with exception of crowded destinations of Copan Ruins and Bay Islands) and Nicaragua you'll find the people more casual with less hassle and hustle for the traveller. In Nicaragua the crafts markets boast fair fixed prices from the co ops and one need not bargain for souvenirs, outside of Managua, the capital city, Nicaragua, the second pooredt nation in the hemisphere per capita, is also per capita the safest destination in Central America.
I live here and work here, I do not read this nor get it seconhand from another person.